Have you been involved in an accident, or suffered injuries because of someone else's actions? You may find yourself worrying about your finances as the medical bills start to pile up, and you continue to miss work because you are physically unable to perform your duties as a result of your injuries and recovery. If this sounds familiar, or similar to the situation you are currently dealing with, then you may be entitled to seek damages from the person who caused the accident in the form of a personal injury lawsuit or settlement. The team at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates are available to help you navigate these processes and understand your rights as they pertain to your injuries and the compensation that you are rightfully owed.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation where you will be able to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Newport Beach about the accident that caused your injuries, the steps that you have taken so far, the impact on your life that this situation has had, and get a better understanding of how we would handle your case as your legal representatives in the California court system. If you are uncertain of your options, or whether or not your situation qualifies for seeking financial reimbursement from either the party who caused your injuries, their representative insurance company or someone else involved in the situation, you can get a better understanding of these situations during your consultation.
Take a look below at some high-level information about civil lawsuits in California, how personal injury cases are handled and generally proceed, and how a personal injury attorney can be an enormous asset to you during this process. Keep in mind that if you do not see anything in the following information that resembles your own situation, this absolutely does not mean that you will not find the help that you need with our firm.
What Is a Personal Injury Attorney, and How Can They Help Me?
A California personal injury attorney is a lawyer who is accredited by the State Bar of California and focuses on the field of tort law and personal injury. When you hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you for your case, they will focus on recovering financial damages to compensate for your injuries, provided that they were caused by another person's malice, negligence, or malpractice.
In the courts, your attorney will work to prove that your injuries were the result of someone else's actions or inactions, and will then move forward with establishing an amount of money that you are owed because of your suffering, both financially and non-financially. In many cases, they will work directly with the other person's insurance company to facilitate a series of negotiations in the hopes of arriving at a settlement before needing to pursue a full lawsuit.
As your legal representative, a personal injury lawyer will handle all court filings, research, and all other detail work that would otherwise be your responsibility without an attorney. This means that you are able to focus on recovery and stability, and bringing normalcy back to your life after this major disruption. It has been found in many studies that stress plays a major role in recovery and can delay or complicate successful recoveries significantly.
Does My Situation Qualify For a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
To determine whether or not you may be able to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit, you must first answer three simple questions:
- Were you involved in an accident or situation that was caused by someone else's actions?
- Were you injured as a result of these actions?
- Did your injuries cause financial impacts on your life?
If you are able to answer ‘yes' to these questions, or if you are unsure, contact our team immediately to discuss moving forward with your case. No two injuries or accidents are alike, meaning that no two personal injury cases are the same, and we will work to develop a case specific to your experience in order to get you the justice that you deserve.
Examples of Personal Injury Cases
There are many different injuries that can result in a lawsuit, provided that it meets the above criteria or is otherwise caused by someone else's actions. However, here are a few examples of common cases that are heard in the California court system. Again, keep in mind that if you do not see your own situation listed below, it does not mean that you will not be able to find help from our law firm.
- Car accidents
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Drunk driving
- Slip and fall
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
Should I Accept the Offer From The Insurance Company?
After you are involved in an accident that is covered by the other party's insurance company, you will work directly with an insurance agent who will compile the information about your accident, your injuries, and your overall situation. The insurance company will respond to your claim and make you a settlement offer after assessing all of the details of the accident. Although this amount may seem appealing, especially if you are experiencing some financial stress after your accident, you must understand that this offer is nowhere near the amount that you are truly owed, and accepting it will block your future ability to seek the actual damages you deserve.
Instead of accepting this offer, you should consult with an experienced attorney who can deal with the insurance company and begin a series of negotiations for an amount that appropriately addresses your suffering. If these negotiations fail or you are unable to reach a settlement that addresses your issues, then your attorney will likely advise that you move forward with a lawsuit.
How Much Is My Personal Injury Lawsuit Worth?
There are a variety of factors that go into the final amount awarded to a victim in a personal injury settlement or lawsuit, and there is no simple formula to apply for any accident to determine a fair amount. In California, they are divided into compensatory damages, and in some cases, a victim is additionally awarded punitive damages. Compensatory damages are further divided into economic and noneconomic damages, and address two different aspects of the injury. Your personal injury attorney will be working to pursue compensatory damages; if a jury believes that punitive damages are deserved, then they will make that decision.
Read more below to get an idea of some issues that will be factored into your total award:
Economic damages cover impacts of your accident that have actual dollar-valued repercussions. This means that something like an ambulance ride or medical treatment, where you receive a bill or time that you have missed from work, where you lose out on actual income. We will go through your entire situation to determine the economic damages that we will seek compensation for. The most common economic damages are things like hospital bills, recovery costs, lost wages, surgery and medical procedures, and disability. If we believe that you will continue to suffer economic consequences from your injuries, such as from long-term disability or future medical procedures, we will additionally account for these in your settlement.
Economic damages are paid back to your insurance company first, as they (in many cases) have paid for a large portion of these costs up-front.
Noneconomic damages are the impacts of your injuries that do not have set dollar values appended to them, but are no less important to address. They include things like your pain and suffering from your injuries, medical procedures, and the pains of recovery. In addition, you may suffer from fear, trauma, or depression because of your experience, or from a diminished quality of life because you are unable to pursue your interests and hobbies. In the cases of wrongful death, we will additionally sue for a loss of consortium and other “non-financial” impacts to your loss.
Since noneconomic damages do not have a cost associated with them, we will approach these calculations differently than simply compiling invoices and receipts. In order to present a jury with a fair number for these damages, we will determine a multiplier that we believe represents the intangible impacts on your life. Once we have found a reasonable multiplier, we will apply that to your economic damages and add that amount to the total number we are seeking. For example, if we were to use a multiplier of 3x and you have $100,000 of economic damages, then we will seek $100,000 + (3 x $100,000) for a total of $400,000 in compensatory damages.
In certain situations where a jury determines that the defendant has acted in a particularly reprehensible or egregious manner to cause your injuries, you will be awarded additional punitive damages. These damages are not intended to compensate you for any of your injuries or suffering, but instead, serve to punish the person or party who caused the injuries. As such, punitive damages are not sought after by the victim and their legal team and are not factored into the amount that we determine to be fair for your situation.
Contact Us Today
To learn more about your options, or to get started on your legal case immediately, contact us today to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Newport Beach. We will be happy to work on your behalf to get you the money you deserve for your injuries and suffering and will do our best to take as much stress from you as possible during this legal process. Act quickly to ensure that you stay ahead of the California Statute of Limitations. We want our clients to focus on getting their lives back on track after these traumatic and disruptive injuries while enjoying peace of mind knowing that we are fighting for what they deserve.